Within the opening 10 minutes, there's a scene where a group of paleontologists is trying to find fossils to keep their investors happy and funding secure. A man walks up to our lead, Nora Tidemann (Ine Marie Wilmann), and tells her to quit because it's all over. But she continues digging, and voilá! there's indeed a large dinosaur fossil right where she was digging. Everyone rejoices and the day is saved. It is at this moment I knew that this movie will be predictable in how it was going to tell the story. I could see every beat drop and plot twist coming a mile away. However, I didn't anticipate the folklore and actual mystery of the Troll to grip me so much.
Troll, directed by Roar Uthaug, is a beautifully shot monster movie. The gorgeous spanning shots of the mountains, valleys, and cities of Norway, are breathtaking. And they lend an aura of mystery to the proceedings. I also can't proceed further without complimenting the amazing CGI work done on the monster. The creature blends in perfectly with the environment, and at no point does one feel that the effects are janky. And in an era where even multi-million dollar Marvel movies are faltering on VFX, Troll stands tall with a lower budget.
Rooted in Norwegian folklore, Troll tells a simple story. The titular troll rises out of the mountains following a detonation to make way for a tunnel. But he doesn't really wreak havoc in the way one would expect the monster to do in a typical monster movie. He attacks only when provoked, and even when challenged by humans, his retaliation is softer in comparison. Also, he saves a child from a crashing helicopter.
The pro-environment message is clear in Uthaug's movie, and it's punched in more when at the end. Instead of flattening the city of Oslo with a nuclear weapon to kill the monster, our lead instead tries talking to it in an effort to get it to turn back to the mountains. And at the end, when the creature does die, it's due to sunlight, and not any man-made harm is done to it.
Uthaug knows that his movie is following in the footsteps of classics like Godzilla. And it cleverly references it too. During a news broadcast, the creature is referred to as Norwegian Godzilla. Troll's strength lies in its folklore. The history of the troll, its characteristics, and why is it awake? where is it going? and why is there only one of them? are the questions that kept me interested in the film.
At the end of the movie, one of the characters, Andreas Isaksen (Kim Falck), asks Nora if there are more trolls living inside the mountains. In response, she just smirks. This could be hinting at a sequel, and I for one would love to see Norwegian folklore depicted on screen more. However, if there's a sequel, then Uthaug would do well to write his characters better. Each and every character is a one-dimensional caricature with almost zero nuance.
We have Nora, the paleontologist who has a crazy dad who believes in folklore, but she doesn't. But in the end, she's brought around. There's her old man who actually wasn't crazy and was right about the folklore being true. Andreas is the President's assistant, who in the end leaves his job to become a writer, and then there's the hardcore military man Kris Holm (Mads Sjøgård Pettersen), who just fires stuff, and that's it.
Overall, Troll is a valiant attempt to put Norwegian folklore on screen. However, its predictability drags it down. Yet, it's worth a one-time watch just to watch the gorgeous cinematography and the CGI work of the creature.
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